Ever since the Lancia Thema 8.32 became the best-selling car in the world in 1988, retractable/deployable rear spoilers have been the must-have accessory for any sporty car design. This is a false path.
The problem with a deployable spoiler is that an owner is presented, at every stop, with a predicament. Do I live my life to the fullest, and leave the spoiler up? Or do I choose to be not a total dork and leave it down like a normal person?
There is, of course, no right answer. To leave a spoiler down is to waste a perfectly good opportunity to let the world take in your silly car’s silly aero device. To leave it up is obnoxious and pointless. It’s not like you car needs highly tuned aerodynamic downforce at precisely zero miles per hour.
The retractable rear spoiler, then, is always a bit of a joke. Sometimes it’s an artful, highly engineered joke, like the hydraulic arms tucked into the back of a Veyron. But that’s as good as it is going to be.
What is a very different story is the front spoiler. Cars want chin spoilers. They want to look low and aggressive. They want to channel air smoothly and cleanly. They want to grind on every speed bump and driveway they encounter. This is the problem. Much as your car wants to be low, you do not always want to scrape.
Plenty of supercars, Gallardos even, get around this problem with a front suspension you can lift up to get over speed bumps. This is complicated and a little bit lame. Much less lame is a front spoiler that you can tuck away, as seen on this 1980s Nissan R31 Skyline:
And also on the new Porsche 911 Turbo, which now has a larger active chin spoiler than the previous iteration, as Porsche notes in its press release:
The Porsche styling ethos of form following function is expressed in the typical Turbo rear spoiler, and here the enhanced adaptive aerodynamics of the new Porsche 911 Turbo are a particular technical highlight. This features electronically controlled cooling air flaps at the front, a larger active front spoiler and variable rear spoiler with a greater surface area.
Perhaps this level of added complexity is out of sync with Porsche’s minimalist aesthetic. Maybe it goes against the company’s reputation of durability through simplicity. An old Porsche is a car that survives in part because there’s not much there.
But then again, this is not an old Porsche; it’s a new one. There’s nothing minimalist about it. It’s a maximalist kind of vehicle, with all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering and 100 turbochargers if Porsche thought it was efficient to do so. Welcome a chin spoiler that juts out or hides away with the touch of a button.